Abstract：Yong Yan Ji Gu, written by Ying Zhong, is a work on the interpretation of Ningbo dialect. The manuscript has been stored in Ningbo Tianyige Museum for 41 years. At present, except a large number of quotations from his manuscript in A Dictionary of Chinese Dialects, the academic world knows little about Ying Zhong and his book. Therefore, in recent years, I have been focusing on the study of Ying Zhong and Yong Yan Ji Gu. After many twists and turns, I came into contact with his daughter and obtained the first-hand information about him. Meanwhile, in the process of collating and annotating, I gained a deeper understanding of his book. These two aspects laid the foundation for the writing of this paper.
According to researches, Ying Zhong, originally named Ying Shilin, was born in the town of Xiaying, Yin County, Ningbo City (now Xiaying Sub-district, Yinzhou District, Ningbo City) in 1907 and died in 1969. He received his initial education in old-style private schools during his childhood and studied in Shanghai and Wuhan for several years in his youth. Though having never received any formal education in linguistics, he was self-taught and proficient in the study of Chinese characters, phonology of Chinese language and exegesis, as well as Chinese medicine. After working as a clerk in Shanghai Huacheng Tobacco Company for a long time, he returned to Ningbo at the end of 1957 and concentrated on the writing of Yong Yan Ji Gu in the decade from 1958 to 1969. Ying Zhong committed suicide after the book was finished.
Yong Yan Ji Gu was written in classical Chinese and transcribed elegantly in standard script of small characters. There are 10 volumes of the main text, and an appendix of “Bian Yin” and “Bu Yi”. A total of 11 volumes contain more than 400,000 words, arranged according to the classification of character meaning. More than 1,880 quotes of Ningbo dialect are examined and interpreted. Yong Yan Ji Gu is the last masterpiece by a traditional philologist studying Ningbo dialect, and displays a high academic standard. Its academic value mainly lies in the following aspects: first, it preserves a rich corpus of Ningbo dialect; second, it is a textual research on the characters of a number of dialect words; third, it probes into the etymology and motivation of some dialect words; fourth, it summarizes some linguistic rules in Ningbo dialect. However, the book also has obvious defects: first, it overemphasizes the rule that “the names or nouns in dialects stem from the ancient standard language”; second, it relies too much on “Yin Zhuan” (changes in pronunciation) and “He Sheng” (combination of pronunciations) for justification, and therefore is not rigorous enough; third, the etymology is obtained through “Zi Xun Lian Yan” (the synopsis of a string of characters) and “Tong Yi Lei Ju” (the convergence of synonyms), and therefore not all of his conclusions are convincing; fourth, as it lacks modern grammar concepts, many affixes are interpreted as content words in the book. The mistakes in Yong Yan Ji Gu are due to both personal and historical factors. The concepts and methods of traditional language study would inevitably bring historical limitations to the study of dialects. Therefore, our evaluation of Ying Zhong and his book should be based on the historical perspective.
In a word, this paper is the first study of Ying Zhong and Yong Yan Ji Gu in the academic circle. We have researched his personal experiences and his academic morality, and made an introduction to the composition, circulation and writing style of his book. We have also analyzed the academic value and existing problems of the book rudimentarily. It is hoped that it will be helpful for the excavation and inheritance of the local Zhejiang culture and promote the study of Wu dialect, especially Ningbo dialect.